Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vive la Rentrée! Paris Comes Back to Life

Bonjour, my Francophile friends! After a lovely summer holiday, we're back in Paris and ready once again to embrace la vie en rose. La rentree -- the post-vacation period in early September when the French go back to school, back to work, and back to normal life -- is in full swing and the energy on the streets is palpable.

How to know when la rentrée has arrived? (Aside from the date on the calendar, of course.) Overly tanned and smiling Parisians fill the streets, cafes and shops; streets that were eerily quiet just days ago now buzz with scooters and the bleating horns of French drivers. Tourists are no longer quite so ubiquitous and those that remain are a tad older and wiser. (September may be the very best month to visit.) Our little ones went back to school this morning, full of excitement to see the pals they've missed since July. As I walked Adele into la maternelle (grande section, her final year of preschool), I couldn't help remembering their first days of French school and how nervous we all were. (Perhaps moi, more than anyone else). Speaking not a word of French, Cole and Adele braved those early days more easily than I ever could have imagined and taught me a thing or two about resilience in the process. Of course, we had our share of tears and plenty of cultural adjustment (no daily preschool "sharing sheets?" No quarterly "parent-teacher conferences?"). But within a matter of weeks, my two Boston babies were quickly becoming a little bit French. What a difference a year and a half makes! Here they were this morning on our way to l'ecole.
                                                     And fun with friends in the neighborhood...
It's been a family adventure in the truest sense, forcing each of us to reach well outside our comfort zones. The steely stares in the preschool halls that greeted me those early weeks (and months...) were replaced this morning by warm embraces from friends and fellow parents. I was quickly reminded that I really live here -- that we're part of a community and not just foreign visitors. With the kids safely tucked away at school, Greg and I stole away for lunch at a favorite neighborhood restaurant, Au Pied de Fouet, where we celebrated  la rentrée à deux over roast chicken and tarte aux fraises. Yum.
In another hour, it will be pick-up time when I'll hear the full report of the day. Which friends are in their classes, what are the new teachers like? Just like parents everywhere, I'll await the sight of their little faces as they come barreling out the school door. Smiles? Tears? What new adventures will this school year bring? Only time will tell.


At September 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM , Blogger Michelle Moller said...

Welcome back! It's so wonderful to look back and see how you and your family have grown and adjusted to a new way of life. Can you imagine a year from now and how wonderful that "look back" is going to be. Enjoy!

At September 14, 2012 at 7:10 AM , Blogger Dianne Stevens said...

Welcome back! It's so nice to know that you still came to embrace again France! Enjoy!

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